Installing and Uninstalling Software in Ubuntu

Linux Ubuntu comes with a reasonably good set of software installed and ready to use out of the box for a general use case. However, sometimes you may need additional software to get things done or dislike the choice of bundled software. Worry not. It is extremely easy to install and uninstall software in Ubuntu, whether you come from a Windows background or an OSX background.

If you were previously a Windows user, your experience with software installations probably includes clicking a lot of “Next”s and “Accept”s. On the other hand, if you have used a Mac, software installations were just a matter of drag-and-drop from the correct disk image to your “Applications” folder.

In Ubuntu, we have something called apt, short for Advanced Package Tool, and Software Repositories (repo, in short) for managing most software.

The Advanced Package Tool, or APT, is a free software user interface that works with core libraries to handle the installation and removal of software on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and its variants. APT simplifies the process of managing software on Unix-like computer systems by automating the retrieval, configuration and installation of software packages, either from precompiled files or by compiling source code.

A Software Repository is a storage location from which software packages may be retrieved and installed on a computer.

In Ubuntu, the main, universe, restricted and multiverse repositories are enabled by default.
The main repo contains packages which are officially supported by Ubuntu.
The restricted repo contains the packages which are not FOSS.
The universe repo contains software that is not officially supported by Ubuntu, but are supported by the community.
The multiverse repo contains software which are not free.

The complete list of packages available by default on Ubuntu Precise (12.04 LTS) may be found here.

Installing Software

The easiest way for new users to install software is the GUI marketplace bundled with Ubuntu. Simply fire up the software center, search for the software you want and click “Install”.

Another GUI way around is via the Synaptic Package Manager, but it targets a slightly advanced audience and is not bundled with Ubuntu.

A convenient and geeky way to install software is via APT itself. This however, is a CLI based tool, which means commands need to be typed into a terminal, and even the smallest spelling mistake will fail the task.

The syntax of the tool is as follows :

# apt-get install package-name-here

Note: The # in the above command (and in every other command) signifies that the command must be run as root, or be preceded by ‘sudo’.

Screenshot from 2015-11-11 15:53:42

The only problem here is getting to know the package name itself. For example, Firefox Browser is packaged under the name “firefox”, but Chromium is by the name “chromium-browser”. You can browse the packages from the repo browser, and with time, you will begin to remember the package names.

Hint: You can always use Tab key to autocomplete commands and names in the terminal.

Uninstalling Software

Uninstalling software is as easy as installing software in Ubuntu.

The Ubuntu Software Center and Synaptic Package Manager provide a GUI path to do this.

The terminal way uses the following syntax :

# apt-get remove package-name-here

To remove the software along with all its configuration files, you will need to purge the application.

# apt-get purge package-name-here

You only need to know the package name of the program you wish to remove.

Warning! By using incorrect package names, you may unintentionally remove software which are needed for the regular functioning of your Linux Box

The ‘#’ character in front of the code means that the code needs to be run with administrator privilege, or root privilege. In most cases, using

sudo apt-get ...

will suffice.

Note : apt is smart. If you attempt to install packages you already have on your Box, apt will try to update it, and if it is the latest version, apt will do nothing.

Now that you know how to, go out there and install yourself some Linux software!

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